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Practice Your Penmanship!

February 4, 2022

A Page from Sam Copp's Penmanship Workbook

Back in the days of one-room schoolhouses, a lot of learning was rote learning—repeating over and again until a skill was mastered. Penmanship was a very important ability, essential for communicating clearly with others. Students, like Sam Copp of Balsam Grove (south of Balsam Lake), would spend countless hours copying the letters out of their penmanship books, until they could form perfect letters. For some, perfect penmanship would last a lifetime. On the other hand, imagine spending your childhood trying to master the art of writing!

Before typewriters became common, proper penmanship was an essential business and professional skill. For an enterprise that was concerned about its public image, the chicken-scratch of today would never have been tolerated in writing to a customer. For many businesses, a proper letter was the only introduction they would ever get. If you look at the longstanding logos of Coca-Cola, Ford and Kelloggs, they are really just proper script that is a little bit stylized.

For Sam Copp practicing his penmanship led directly to his career. He went on to be the clerk at Paul Ouellet’s Fenelon Falls Meat Market. His family bought out the business, and Sam was a Fenelon Falls butcher into the 1950s.

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